Communication of Difficult Airway Information for Future Patient Care
The experienced difficult airway (DA) is an insufficiently communicated problem. Verbal communication of DA information to the patient is unreliable; the patient may not understand the significance of this information and may be physically unable to communicate in a medical emergency situation. The distribution of a notification and a written report to the patient and explanation of the importance of these documents are more effective options.
The information on a previously experienced DA, as the most reliable predictor of a DA during subsequent general anesthesia (7), is considered essential for future patient care (2, 17). Therefore, it is of great importance to obtain information on a previously experienced DA, especially in cases where face-mask ventilation and/or conventional tracheal intubation turn out to be difficult or impossible despite accurate preoperative airway evaluation. Patients with an experienced DA should be encouraged to give consent for enrollment in a departmental DA database with agreement to confidential exchange of medical information for use within the institution and for external queries (6), unless a national DA database is instituted.
Recommendations of the Austrian Working Group for Airway Management
We recommend the communication of DA information by distribution of a notification and a written report to the patient and explanation of the importance of these documents. We further emphazise the implementation of a departmental DA database for use within the institution and for external queries.
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